This will be a long post, but please read the whole thing if you wish to comment:
My Fiancee (Who I will refer to as J) and I have been together for 3.5 years and just recently got engaged. We actually broke up about 2 months ago and got back together 2 weeks later. It was a trying time for us, but a lot of stuff came out of it that ended up making our relationship stronger. It was especially hard on her, since she had been divorced once and has always had a deep fear of being alone. So when we broke up she was very torn up emotionally.
Right before we broke up, when we were drifting apart, she made friends with a christian guy (we will call him E). And when we broke up she started going to church with him, reading these nonsense christian books he gave her, and listening to christian music. I am an Atheist, have been since I was a young boy, even though I was brought up lutheran. She was raised strict catholic, but had a mostly emotional rejection to it when she was a teenager. Our whole relationship she always said that she believed in some higher power, but thought religion didn’t make sense. And I could respect that, but I would never consider marrying a christian (or any religious person).
When we got back together she said she was interested in exploring her spirituality, and thinking of learning about eastern philosophies, like Buddhism and such. I was not happy about it, but it didn’t bother me too much. I even went and bought some books on meditation so that we could do it together. But as soon as we got back together she started getting into the christian thing.
I want to say that I don’t think there is anything going on with her and E, that is not what this is about. It is about that he is super religious, and she is in a weak state right now, and she is being sucked into the empty promises of religion. And I am afraid that if this goes too far she will never come to her senses.
So E was actually her personal trainer, and then they became friends. She has gone to church with him several times, it is a little non-denominational one with like 50 people, I think it is the kind of crazy kind from what I can gather. She has been reading these books that tell her (from what I gather from reading the back covers) to look for god for comfort and answers in your life. And he has been getting her into christian music, and christian movies.
Other than this our relationship is really good, hence the recent engagement. Anytime I bring up this subject she gets really defensive. She doesn’t like to talk about it at all. WHen I ask her why she goes, she only says “because it makes me feel good”. I ask her if she really believes the stuff they are saying, and she says, not literally.And I have never even met E. She says she is anxious for me to meet him because she thinks I will be mean. I have never been mean to anyone she know who is religious (most of her family is), and on top of that I am not a mean person at all, but I am very critical of religion. I have told her that I am very uncomfortable with her going to church at all, especially with some other guy who I have never met.
So I have been trying to take it slow and easy. I suggested a couple weeks ago that I wanted to meet him and go with her to this church, just to see what it was all about since it was so important to her. She got really defensive and said she didn’t want me there becuase she would not feel “open to the experience” with me there, because I am an Atheist. That made me feel even more suspicious about this place. Once I convinced her to let me go she said that I should meet E before I go to his church, but now she seems to be delaying having us meet, and still not wanting me to go to this church with her. I know it is because I have always been the voice of reason in the relationship, and I think she will feel embarrassed or uncomfortable with me being there, because I think even she knows deep down that most of it is BS.
So I was wondering if anybody else has gone though something similar, how they dealt with it, what advice they might have. Right now I am sticking to my “kill them with kindness” approach. But I have also considered telling her that no children of mine will ever go to church, which is true, and since we want to have kids, would be kind of an ultimatum. I have even considered going to E and telling him I will get him fired for his relationship with her (which he would be if his work found out)if he doesn’t break off the friendship.
NOTE: THIS IS NOT A DEBATE ABOUT THE VALIDITY OF CHRISTIANITY, ANY POST TO THAT MATTER WILL BE IGNORED COMPLETELY.
To add a bit more. I took her to a humanist church because I though that could be a sort of compromise we could both life with. She has said that the sense of community was one thing she wanted. We went once, but she has been reluctant to go back. She said it was not the same as christian church, everyone there was welcoming and wanted to get to know her. I said of course because E is a member and knows everybody there, it is not really a fair comparison.
Part of me understands where you are coming from, but I think you need to do some searching in yourself and see what you really want in your marriage.
A previous relationship with me ended badly. We had just started talks of the idea of marriage, but ultimately religion tore us apart. Mind you, she was what I would consider overly religious - she took the bible literally, and was very defensive of it. She thought me being an atheist was wrong, which really put me off. It was a feeling of rejection, even though everything else was perfect in the relationship. We couldn’t come to an agreement with kids, marriage, etc.
Again though, she was what I would consider devout Christian.
My current relationship, she is Catholic but not religious. Essentially, she believes in God and her church visits can probably be counted on one hand in any given year. So it really doesn’t bother me, hell I will often say I believe in a higher power, I just hate the word God because it’s so defined and my ‘god’ is not. It wouldn’t bother me to be married by a catholic at our wedding if we have one (although we both agreed it didn’t have to be in a church, I could pick a beach wedding). I think the bottom line is, we drew our boundaries early and respected them. I don’t get on her about believing in God, and she doesn’t bother me about not believing in God. I really don’t see her ever suddenly feeling the urge to go to church all the time, and I wouldn’t mind if she took the kids to midnight mass or anything. I didn’t believe in God, but I still appreciated the beautiful candle scene and music. I love tradition, and we both just decided to not push either on the kids, and let it be their own decision. Establishing early boundaries and agreements gave us a solid foundation of trust that we can build on, not worrying if this was going to be a problem later on - and I really liked that, especially since my last serious relationship went south on the religion issue.
So, I would suggest to you is this - find out your must haves, what you absolutely cannot budge on, some things you could budge on and just the two of you lay out what you expect and boundaries. This may be difficult for her but it will save you either 1) a divorce later on or 2) a “no-go” spot in your marriage where its something swept under the rug and likely someday ending back to “1”
Best of luck to you in all you do.
(edit) In regards to the E guy, I’m not sure if your post is asking more about religion in your relationship, or the validity of this E guy’s intentions. It could be a dicey situation because your fiance may very well not feel comfortable to experience her religiousness (is that a word) at church with you there, or feel guilt for bring you in there, etc. I don’t know - but I think it’s perfectly legit and you should meet this E guy who is really interested in her and her faith. Afterall, the religion itself states they shouldn’t be with those who don’t except Christ or face eternal damnation, so I would want to make sure this E guy isn’t trying to pull her away to the faith and ultimately him instead.
Either way, luck again.
I’d cut and run.
After an engagement and years of dating there should be some stability and mutual understanding.
She clearly isn’t emotionally stable and probably has something going on with E that i doubt you want to know about.
Too many issues and baggage. Tough to throw it in after so many years of love and commitment, but finding a women who actually thinks rationally and is consistent will make you jump for joy.
It’s better to be single and wanting that together and frustrated.
Good luck in whatever you do.